HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Mexican drug cartels want as many Americans children and adults hooked on drugs as possible, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A new report issued by the D.E.A. highlights problems with fentanyl, meth and other drugs impacting our region. This new report gives national statistics, but News 3 spoke to the area D.E.A office to talk about how this is pertaining to Hampton Roads.
They said the data shows that meth is making a comeback in urban areas like Norfolk and other parts of Hampton Roads and added that much of the illegal drugs in the U.S. are coming from Mexican cartels who want to maximize their profits and create as many drug users as they can.
These cartels work with criminal groups and gangs to sell their product to as many Americans as possible.
Jennifer Lofland is the Field Intelligence Manager for the Washington D.E.A. She said along with an increase in meth, fentanyl is killing many people and found to be mixed with all sorts of drugs.
She said many users don’t know they’re taking fentanyl.
“They are sprinkling it on weed, there sprinkling it on the crack rocks, they're putting it in heroin, they're putting it in the cocaine, they're putting it in the meth, and putting it in pills,” said Lofland.
She said fentanyl is very cheap to use which is why so many drug dealers are mixing it with other drugs and added that now more than ever, a user has no idea what chemicals they are taking when they buy illegal street drugs.
“The fact that we literally cannot know anymore what is in a substance that's being sold on the street is scary for us in law enforcement and should be very scary to parents,” said Lofland.
Parents like Carolyn Weems know the pain of what the drug epidemic can cause. She is a member of the Virginia Beach School Board and a local advocate. She created the non-profit Caitlyn’s Halo after her daughter who lost her battle to drugs several years ago.
She is working to reduce this problem and said COVID-19 has put a strain on the local drug problem. “You throw in a pandemic and closures and it's pretty much, just the perfect storm for disaster,” said Weems.
The D.E.A. said COVID-19 restrictions drove up the prices for fentanyl and heroin across the area, but the drugs continued to be available.
“Drug overdoses and drug abuse has just skyrocketed since COVID. It's actually alarming, shocking numbers,” said Weems.
The D.E.A. said they have a new initial called Operation Engage to combat these issues with the help of the community and want people to be more aware of what they are trying to do.
“The D.E.A. is not just the agency that's out there, trying to fight all the marijuana legalization advocates. We really are out there, trying to help your families, trying to help your communities,” said Lofland.